Retro Review

Chapter 55: Chase The Sun – Retro Review

Tom Walton goes back to PROGRESS; first show at Alexandra Palace, Chapter 55; Chase The Sun.

This week, PROGRESS yet again returns to the historic Alexander Palace for Chapter 95 ‘Still Chasing’. 

This comes two years after their first show, Chapter 55 ‘Chase The Sun’, at one of their biggest venues. This event holds a special place in my heart as it was my first ever Progress show.  

The card was stacked. From the opening to the main event, the card held a big fight feel to it.  From the Tag Team Championship match of CCK vs British Strong Style to the clash of the heavyweights for the (now defunct) Atlas Championships to the all-star main event of Progress Champion Pete Dunne vs SSS 2017 winner Travis Banks.  Let’s delve into this massive occasion.

Starting the show with the traditional welcome and warm-up from Jim Smallman, you already get the sense of the occasion. Now, I’ll freely admit to not watching back shows I’ve been to live most of the time, so what a pleasant surprise that during the routine ‘It’s your round’ chant, my lovely mug is there, zoomed in on the screen, for the whole world to marvel in. 

CCK vs. British Strong Style (c) – Tag Team Championship Ladder Match

This is a testament to the fantastic heel work of BSS that, during a time when the whole country adored them, in the confines of Progress they were able to generate pure hatred from the Ultras.  Let’s not forget the adoration that CCK had possessed since appearing in Progress. This match was a fantastic way to start of the show, some great, fast-paced action to get the crowd going with plenty of highlights to go on an end of year MV. CCK end up regaining their championships after Brookes back body drops Bate from the top of the ladder onto another.

Dahlia Black vs. Toni Storm (c) – Progress Women’s Championship

Next, in true progress fashion, we have the Women’s Championship match between the reigning champion Toni Storm and the challenger Dahlia Black. This was the shortest match on the show. Starting off with some solid chain wrestling before moving into a more hard-hitting style, with the pace being dictated by Storm. In one sequence, we have Black attempt to hit a moonsault, but this is easily blocked with the knees by Storm, who follows up with a modified shoulder/neck breaker. Looking back, this looked more hard-hitting than it did in person and brings a close two count.

The last-minute and a half of the match brings about quick paced changing.  Storm hits a Storm Zero only for Black to kick out at two. Black then gets back into the match, hits a running cannonball and follows it with a moonsault for a near fall. Black goes to the top rope to hit another one, but Storm jumps up, hits a German Suplex from the top rope and hits a second Storm Zero for the three-count. Even though we had a short match length, the aftermath makes the future look more interesting, with Jinny running out and destroying Black’s leg with a chair. I do feel like this match could have been a couple of minutes longer, with the second half feeling a bit rushed, but both women put on a good showing and this was yet another match that Storm (and Black) can add to an impressive collection.

Zack Sabre Jr. Open Challenge

The third match on the card and we come to the open challenge from Zack Sabre Jr.  Watching back, you can feel the tension in the air. Who is Progress going to have answer the call? Well, there was no need to fear as a returning Villain, Marty Scurll, is here. The reaction in Ally Pally is electric and everyone’s on their feet.  The match starts as you would expect with Marty, with an attack on ZSJ. With these two being former tag team partners and being associated with each other from all the way back in Chapter 1, the chemistry in this match is great.

The chain wrestling to start is incredibly smooth, with each movement just floating into each other.  After all, there’s a reason ZSJ is the best technical wrestler in the world, and Marty is no slouch either. With all the holds ZSJ is getting in, including an octopus stretch wrapped around in the ropes, Marty turns the tide of the match by catching him in the ring apron and a giving him a swift kick to the head. This doesn’t last long, however, with ZSJ soon reversing Marty into a half boston crab, transitioning into all manner of stretches that can only be stopped with a deep rake of the eyes. 

The match from here is pretty back and forth, with more kicks, chops and clotheslines. In a lovely spot, Marty goes for a moonsault, with Zack catching him with a perfect triangle, only to be reversed with a bucklebomb and a one-legged dropkick for the two-count. The end comes with Marty signalling for the Chickenwing, only to be wrapped up two days from Sunday with the European clutch for the pinfall. Such a great match from two Progress originals and this turned out to be Marty’s final match for Progress, with him delivering a promo saying thank you and goodbye.  A fitting way for him to bow out.

Deathmatch – Jimmy Havoc vs. Mark Haskins

Deathmatch time!  Havoc vs Haskins. We start with a great video package highlighting the recent history between the two to hype up the crowd.  There are three reasons why you know this will be full of blood, sweat and more blood. The canvas is white, Havoc’s wearing white and the first row and warned about being in the splash zone. This match is not for the faint of heart.  This was my first live deathmatch and I hadn’t experienced anything like it in my live. The match starts with an axe swing. Not children’s toys, such as sledgehammers, here. Trying to write a detailed account of this match is out of the question, so lets go with a bullet point list.

  • Frying pan to the head.
  • Promo pictures stapled to the head.
  • An audience member’s crutch to the stomach.
  • Nerf gun to the nuts and dinosaur to the head.
  • Death Valley Driver from the stage from a table.
  • Powerbomb through cinder blocks.
  • Paper cuts … a lot of paper cuts with salt rubbed into the open wound.
  • DDT onto the broken cinderblocks.
  • Barbed wire bat to all manner of body parts
  • Rolling Death Valley Driver to a barbed wire board and drawing pins.
  • Acid rainmaker into the drawing pins. 

The match ends with another Acid Rainmaker onto the drawing pins, but this time it’s delivered with the barbed wire bat and Havoc gets the three count.  There’s a reason he is a previous King of the Deathmatch. Standing ovation from all sections of Ally Pally. 

So, to open up the second half (with a new ring mat) we have the announcement that Progress would run Wembley Arena.  A brilliant crowd-pleasing moment. For a minute, you would think you were at a football match. 

Matt Riddle (c) vs. Timothy Thatcher vs. WALTER – Atlas Championship Triple Threat Match

The first match of the second half of the show, we have Triple Threat for the Atlas Division Championship between reigning champion Matt Riddle, Timothy Thatcher and WALTER.  On this day, I realized how perfect a theme Symphony No. 9, IV is, as the atmosphere that feels an arena is amazing. And we got to hear it twice! Although, it must be said, the sound of a crowd chanting Bro! makes you feel cool as a cucumber. 

Riddle starts with kicks to the big lads from RingKampf, but it’s only a matter of time until the numbers game catches up with him. The storyline running through this though is how Ringkampf respects each other so much that we will go full metal jacket with one another, all agreed on with a simple handshake.  This match is full of stiff chops, kicks and a whole array of suplexes. The strength of the men on show is unreal, for example, Riddle is able to deadlift WALTER into a gutwrench suplex and WALTER hitting a double German Suplex onto both men. I know that some people aren’t a fan of the hard hitting, stiff style of people like WALTER, but myself I must say I do enjoy watching two guys slapping two shades of grey into each other.

This match is a brilliant example of catch wrestling as well. Lots of near falls in this one, such is the aspect of a triple threat. There’s a great sequence that comes with Riddle hitting a god style tombstone to Thatcher, but WALTER breaks it up, hits a german, near enough powerbombs him through the ring. Riddle then nips up, only to have his head taken off with a clothesline for the two-count. The match ends with Thatcher getting caught up in the tops, Riddle goes for another tombstone, but WALTER reverses into his own sit-down tombstone for the three-count.  An incredible show of what the Atlas division was all about.

Following the match, WALTER is celebrating in the ring when the familiar sound of howling hits, and to the surprise of everyone in attendance, Wolfgang comes out of the entrance for his debut appearance in a Progress ring, making his intentions known as the first challenger to WALTER’s newly won Atlas Championship.  

Eight-Man Scramble Match for PROGRESS World Title Number One Contendership

Following that we have an eight-man scramble match for the number one contenders match to the Progress World Championship featuring Chief Deputy Dunne, Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake), Strangler Davis, F.S.U (Mark Andrews and Eddie Dennis), Flash Morgan Webster and Jack Sexsmith. 

There are many different storylines running through this match. You have Sexsmith and Dunne, the battle of the tag teams and Webster trying to get that headlining W on his record. Before the match, we are treated to one of GYV’s boo inducing promos. I honestly don’t think there is anyone in the business who is better at garnering heat from an audience than Zack Gibson.

This match is your typical scramble match.  You have all the wrestlers having their spots, with non-stop, fast-paced action to keep you on your toes. In the end, the match ends with Andrews and Dennis hitting an assisted Next Stop Driver with Andrews letting Eddie go for the pin.

Webster breaks up the pin and gets the strangler on him then hits an Eton Rifle but Mark surprises him with a Shooting Star Press for the one, two, three. The shortest reigning Progress Champion becomes the number one contender.  The real story of the match comes in the following up. It looks as if Flash is going to turn on Mark with an attack but decides on a hug instead, then out of nowhere Eddie hits a Next Stop Driver to his tag partner, starting a year-long feud with his former ally. Progress fans had no idea the gold that was in store for them at this point, and the logic that made it nearly impossible for the Ultras to boo Dennis. 

Travis Banks vs. Pete Dunne (c) – Progress World Championship Match

We finally have our main event, Progress and WWE Champion Pete Dunne versus the 2017 Super Strong Style winner Travis Banks.  We have a video package highlighting the struggle that Banks has had on the road to Ally Pally, with numerous loses caused by BSS.  The crowd are firmly behind Banks for this one, with the boos for the Bruiserweight filing the walls at Ally Pally.

The odds are stacked against Banks, as Dunne is joined to the ring by Moustache Mountain. Banks is right on the offence, but he’s soon threatened by all of BSS, but he fights off with dives to all three members.  BSS briefly retreat, but all return with a sledgehammer. A great nod to Uncle Paul over in Stamford, Connecticut. They are stopped though by the cheese hater himself, Chris Roberts, with the man in the middle ejecting Severn and Bate to the back. The fight is then taken outside, with Dunne launching Banks into the crowd and taking out the ring crew, but Banks makes it back in before the count of 10.

The storyline of the match follows on from there, with Banks showing an inability to quit throughout, something that Progress Ultras loved (but would grow to resent in the future). With everything that Dunne throws at him, he just hits back harder and harder.  This match really is one of the greatest hits for both competitors. Dunne hitting a pedigree to Banks on the apron, only for Banks to follow it up a minute later with a Kiwi Crusher in the same spot. Banks with cannonballs, but Pete reversing with a powerbomb. Second rope Xplex from Dunne and Banks reversing the Bitter End with a spike DDT. Tombstone on the outside following by a Bitter End in the ring by Dunne but still, Banks finds a way to kick out.

Here, we see the birth of the unstoppable Banks that Progress would grow to know, with kick-outs at one for many moves. Following a ref bump, Dunne hits a low blow with a second Bitter End, but again, Banks kicks out. The ref is down, the second rope is down, but these two warriors still battle on.  The near falls aren’t just saved for Banks though, as he hits a top rope german that flips Dunne over his head but is still able to kick out as the ref’s hand hovers over the canvas for the three.

With the ref down, MM return to the ring to hit numerous finishers on Banks. Match over surely? NO! Banks kicks out again and out come the sledgehammers. Just as all looks lost, the new Progress Champions CCK come out and the best boys even up the odds, but as it looks like a level playing field, the equalizer is bought back, and Banks is hit square in the jaw with a sledgehammer.

Our THIRD ref comes out but again, a kick out at three. The ref stops Dunne from hitting Banks again with the sledgehammer and as he throws it away, Banks finds his own and clocks Dunne right in the face, hits the Kiwi Crusher.  He goes for the pin and Dunne kicks out at two, but Banks immediately locks in the Lions Clutch and Pete taps out. We have our NEW Progress Champion, Travis Banks. The fans are going wild as Dunne throws the title to the victor and CCK come to the ring to celebrate. Even his mum and dad are bought to the ring to bask in the glory of the moment.

So, there you have it, a run-down of Chase The Sun, Progress’s first show at Ally Pally. He can only wish that this weekend can live up to this, and other previous shows run at the venue.  This was Progress highlighting some of there best work, and we can only look forward to come of it to come at Chapter 95.

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